Thursday, March 6, 2014

Clerical Sage Studies VI

Jeez, I'm beginning to feel like Zeno.  The closer I get to the end of this, the slower I move.  I only have one study to give today, but there is a lot of work in it.

Here's a really spectacular reworking of the clerical class in terms of its relationship with non-player characters in the campaign.  Incorporated are things I've written about creating, such as sermons and creating converts, and other elements from the Unearthed Arcana, known as ceremonies:

Philosophy & Ethics

Amateur:  baptism, burial, counsel, marriage, preach
Authority:  annulment, consecration, dedication, eulogize, investiture,  vows
Expert:  consecration of ground, ordination, panegyrize
Sage:  excommunication, glorify

The study is primarily that of religious philosophy, practice, pastoral work and the like, and not what we would usually think of as Greek or Enlightenment philosophy.

To preach is to deliver a sermon that convinces an audience to recognize for a brief time moral truth, right conduct and worthy leadership; the cleric is able to influence one listener to cease wrong action (such as those resulting from fear, anger, impatience, greed, laziness, envy, lust, etc) and to take right action (in keeping with the moral code of the cleric’s religion) for the space of an hour.  One person may be affected per point of study, once a minimum of 10 study is accumulated.  Persons encouraged to action will participate in so far as their morale allows them (morale being very low for most people).

Counsel requires an hour of effort from the cleric, but will encourage listeners, for a day, to change their faith (in which case, the cleric’s spells will be effective), to give up addictive substances and forego acts of habitual vice or criminality.  The success of the a counselling session is a percentage equal to the cleric’s  study points.  With ten successful counselling sessions, a cleric will be able to encourage an individual to embrace the cleric’s religion (take note that a head of a family, clan or otherwise would bring more than just one reformed soul).  Counselled individuals must be willing; this requires they fail a wisdom check (wisdom +1 per level above first).  A successful series of counsellings need not take place consecutively, and failed sessions have no relevance against eventual success (which could take years).

To eulogize is to make  meaningful the death of a family member or comrade to bear significance.  The cleric is able to cause up to 1 person per five points of study to directly approach the cleric and seek counselling that day, and to increase the chance of success for counselling by 10 points.  The cleric is also able, if wished, to ‘stir up’ listeners, up to 1 listener per point of study, to acts of violence for a period of 1 hour.  Attack dice are increased by +1 and morale is improved by +2.  The cleric, nor anyone perceived as being connected to the cleric, can be directly instrumental in the death of the person that has died, but an NPC that has fallen in battle beside the cleric is worthy to be eulogized over.

A panegyric is a lofty oration full of praise for an individual that has died.  To panegyrize, the death must be of someone no less than 5th level, who has been counselled at least once by the cleric, and who has participated in a public capacity, and who is therefore known to all who will listen.  The panegyric need not be oral; it may be written and distributed, but it must be made available somehow to the chief heirarch in the region (a baron, noble, etc.).   The panegyric’s purpose is to produce a feeling of fidelity, and gain for the cleric an entitlement that frees the cleric from that noble’s soveriegnty.  If successful, the cleric is then released from the bounds of secular law upon the cleric’s land, and is thereafter bound only by ecclesiastical law; if the cleric has no land, a grant of 160 acres will be made available.  The % chance of success is equal to the number of study points.

To glorify is similar to panegyrize, except that the individual that has died must be of name level.  The spirity of the individual, so glorified, can thereafter be called upon for advice, knowledge, etc., from the plane of existence that individual has gone.  The individual need not have been of the cleric’s religion, but cannot be an upstanding member of another religion at the time of death (they can have been a non-believer of any religion).

Incorporated are various ‘ceremonies’ that were stand alone, but are not part of this study.  Note that most of them are available for amateurs and authorities, making it possible that they could be gained without the cleric actually needing to take philosophy as a specialty—but that now none will be available at 1st or 2nd level unless the cleric takes this as a specialty or at least as a field.

Baptism is a limited form of bless spell which is granted to an individual of no former religion, bringing that individual into the cleric’s religion.  Recently baptized persons will receive a +1 save vs. attacks for a period of one week.  Baptised persons will feel compelled to give tithes, once they have reached an age of maturity enabling them to earn an income.

Burial magically protects a corpse and bestows it with the blessing of the religious organization.  The body is shielded as if by protection from evil.  Those attempting to disinter the corpse must make a saving throw versus spell or stop and flee for ten rounds.  A corpse will not begin to decay for a period of one week after burial, so burial will extend the period over which the body may be raised by one day per level of the cleric.  Burial will also save the souls of those who may become undead through violating the dead; it will restrain undead that have been buried from rising for 1 hour per level of the cleric.  If burial should be cast upon a regenerating creature that has less than zero hit points, the act will kill the creature.

Marriage unites two persons in the eyes of the church; such individuals cannot divorce without an annulment.  Each will receive a +2 save vs. attacks when within 20’ of one another.  They confer a +2 attack roll if one or the other is clearly in sight and in danger, with a –1 attack role if separated and there is reason to believe the other is unsafe.  Marriage doubles the likelihood of successful fertilization.  Marriages of convenience, where it is clear that the partners do not love one another, will not confer any benefits or penalties.  Married persons cannot remarry without an annulment.

Annulment.  Releases individuals from marriage.  Typically, a cleric will be able to perform the rite, but will not do so on principle.

Consecration will transform a vial of ordinary water into holy water once per day, which will in turn remain holy for 1 day per level of the cleric.  Holy symbols may be consecrated so as to make them immune to damage or loss; prayer beads may be transformed so that the string will not break, no matter how much strain is placed upon it.  Consecration will also stop a berserking creature.  Up to one other item per level of the cleric may be granted a +1 save against elements; (weapons gain a 1 in 10 chance of resisting a break).  A cleric may consecrate 1 item per day.

Dedication allows a recipient formerly of another religion into the ranks of the casting cleric’s religion, making that person ‘reborn.’  The effects are as baptism.  Dedication only has a % chance of overcoming excommunication equal to the cleric’s points of study.

Investiture grants aspiring clerics the powers of clericism.  The individual must have the necessary fundamentals of education (effectively, the points of study that a 1st level cleric would have, as well as minimum abilities).  Upon being invested, the new cleric will be of 1st level.

Give Vows grants paladinhood to fighters who have the necessary abilities to perform in that stead.  No other former education other than fighter skills is needed (skills obtained by a variety of sub-classes such as soldier, mercenary, bounty hunter, outrider, etc.).

Ordination allows a priest to preside over a congregation, ensuring that members of the church within the cleric’s influence (those who have been counselled towards the cleric’s religion (for a day or permanently), or which have been granted to the cleric by the greater church.   Typically, clerics that are ordained of themselves or others are initially given a congregation of 40-70 persons.

Consecration of Ground purifies a site prior to the erection of a holy structure, regardless of the structure’s purpose.  The ground must be consecrated before the first sod is turned.  A religious edifice constructed on ground that has not been consecrated will slowly, but irrevocably fall into a state of disrepair and has a 1% chance per year, cumulative, of actually collapsing as a result of this oversight—the ground may not be consecrated as an afterthought.  Land destined for a graveyard or cemetery must also be consecrated, or else the dead interred there may rise as undead. The ceremony must also be used on a plot of land destined for use as a graveyard or cemetery; such an area would then turn undead each round with the same effectiveness as a cleric of the third level.  Burial places not so consecrated will begin to produce minor undead with a base chance of –20%, +3% per body interred, each month, unchecked by the power of burial.  If the chance of producing undead rises above 100%, the frequency will increase in proportion commensurate with the likelihood; i.e., 60 bodies are buried following a battle on unconsecrated ground.  The chance of an undead rising from this mass grave would be 160% per month, or 80% every two weeks.  The undead that will rise will be: a skeleton (01-60); zombie (61-90); ghoul (91-97); coffer corpse (98-99); or shadow (00).

Excommunication allows the cleric to anathematize individuals less than 2 levels below that of the cleric, for immorality, at the cleric’s behest.  The cleric must remember that unrestrained use of excommunication weakens the strength of the god, and therefore will bring the attention of superiors within that religion.  The act of excommunication brands the excommunicant with a mark that any cleric of any religion can see; such persons are treated with disdain by legal systems where clerics may see the mark and judge the excommunicant as automatically guilty or unworthy of notice.  Even murdering an excommunicant may bring only a light penalty, or no penalty at all.  Excommunicants cannot receive any benefits from spells cast by members of their former religion.  Excommunication can be mitigated with atonement.


  1. Alexis, in this entry you make reference to the "casting" of certain "study powers." Could you please explain how that works? It doesn't seem to belong to your normal spell-casting rules. What I think you mean is that, should a cleric choose, say, "burial" upon reaching 10 points in Phil. and Ethics, then he may perform the burial rites whenever he pleases. Or does the cleric perhaps get a new daily spell spot, which may only be filled with the burial rite?

    I'm also curious as to how "burial" works when casting on a creature. My assumption would be that it follows the movement rules (certain number of movement points, based on spell level, to cast a spell, plus one or two to discharge it, depending on target, if my memory serves).

    Which brings me to another question involving your online game. I read those posts here and there, to get a sense of how you run the game: when you elide events, when you assume what the players do, what things you want to play out in detail, and so on. At one point in the last few weeks - I'm afraid I can't remember when - I got the impression, from a comment, that you are using movement rules that do not match up with the information contained in e.g. image 3 of this post:

    Could you please explain to me how your movement system has changed since then?

    Thank you.

  2. Maxwell,

    Without knowing specifically what movement detail you are referring to, I don't know how to tell you what has changed. There are often small tweaks and changes to the combat system, to manage things that come up unexpectedly, which the players are usually good with. Be more specific and I shall endeavor to answer you.

    Burial has absolutely no effect on a living creature, nor is it necessary for a beast or an animal without a soul. Burial rests the soul so it does not rise as undead. That is all it does.

    I haven't worked out all the kinks in the sage system, that's why it's in a state of design ... suspended for the time I'm writing my book. Still, gut instinct, I think I'll run it so that for every 10 study points, the cleric can perform a ceremony that day, up to the expertise of the cleric (it would take the same number of points to do a consecration as a burial). Churches do schedule events like this, so it feels right to say the cleric can only do so many ceremonies in a given day. It can take a couple of weeks for a body to rise as undead (which can be extended by embalming), so there is plenty of time to schedule a burial.

    It would be an error to think of ceremonies as spells. Even excommunication does not physically change any ability or condition of the recipient, it only marks. Ceremonies are more in the way of preventative magic, rather than pure magic.

    Did I miss something?

  3. I was under the impression that monsters and leveled peoples below zero HP are still living in your system (I know it at least works for PCs that way, with the 10% ability score penalty per point below 0.) So when I read "If burial should be cast upon a regenerating creature that has less than zero hit points, the act will kill the creature," I thought of maybe some living-but-unconscious/wounded regenerating creature. Is this use of burial supposed to be an undead-killer thing (i.e. for vampires trying to reform in the coffins or something like that)?

    I'll try and find the post I read that made me ask about the movement system.

    I like your gut-instinct version of ceremony limitation. It means that sometimes a player might have to give up a chance to use a more "advanced" ceremony when a "lesser" one is necessary, assuming all ceremonies are treated equal by the daily limitation (which is my guess from your wording.)

  4. Ah, I see.

    "Below zero hit points" is a relative phrase. For anything that does not have a level, death occurs at -1 hit points. Leveled creatures, however, do not die until -10. The above statement is confusing because it is shorthand I am used to. Technically, it should read monsters (sans level) below zero hit points and leveled persons below -9 hit points.

    Yes, all ceremonies are treated equal by the daily limitation. Consecration doesn't take more time or energy from the cleric, but it requires greater expertise. Helpful?


Abusive comments will be deleted.